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Securing Your Video Editor Job

How To Secure Your Video Editor Job With Good Client Chemistry

Want to learn how to secure your video editor job with good client chemistry? Want to know what we even mean by that? Let’s dig in.

We often talk about the technical and artistic aspects of being a film editor. But in the real world, talent and ability is only 50% of the equation.

Today, I want you to think about the way you interact with clients, producers and pretty much anyone else who gets to tell you what to do. There needs to be some chemistry there!

In the next 5-10 minutes, you’re going to learn how to create good chemistry and become the type of editor everyone wants to work with.

To begin, let’s look at three types of editors – which one describes you the most?


Editor 1: Arrogant Andy

Arrogant Stereotype in a Video Editor Job


Andy is super creative and a perfectionist about his editing. Directors like his ideas, his mastery of the tools of his trade, and the fact that he can work unsupervised.


What they don’t like is having to debate changes with him. Andy is a bit like Mozart in the movie Amadeus. When the king suggests that Mozart’s new composition has too many notes, Mozart replies in a bit of a snit, “There are just as many notes, Majesty, as I required. Neither more nor less.”

Like Mozart, Andy feels he is the expert and when he is finished with his work, it is the way it should be. Constructive criticism feels like a personal attack to Andy. To him, the customer isn’t always right.


Editor 2: Timid Terry

Timid Stereotype in a Video Editor Job


Terry is a competent editor who can do anything a director asks.


But Terry gets stuck easily when a creative solution is needed. He’s also terrified of working alone.

Strong-willed, hands-on directors use Terry because he never pushes back or offers an opinion. “As you wish,” seems to be his motto, just as it was with farmhand Westley in The Princess Bride.

Is a swashbuckling hero hiding inside Terry, as it was in Westley? Probably not. But Terry does handle revisions well, mainly because he was never emotionally invested in his work in the first place.


Editor 3: Go-to Gabi

The Ideal Stereotype in a Video Editor Job


Then there’s Gabi. She’s like a good version of the T-X, the shape shifter in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Gabi adjusts to fit the situation.

If clients know just what they want her to do, that’s fine. Gabi is happy to oblige and she certainly has the editing chops to do whatever is required. But if the client wants Gabi to contribute creatively, she hitches up her big girl pants and dives right in.

Gabi has confidence and humility in equal measure. These are the yin and yang of many creative services, including editing.

…confidence and humility in equal measure. These are the yin and yang of many creative services, including editing.

Besides, Gabi has noticed that even when she thinks a scene is perfect, the changes a client requests sometimes make the scene better.

Obviously, it’s better to be a Go-to Gabi. You know, confident yet humble. The editor with all the repeat customers and cool projects.

So, let’s see how Gabi might handle some hypothetical situations.


Scenario #1: The Micromanagers

The Client:

Jack and Jill are the director and screenwriter, respectively, for a new, direct-to-cable fantasy film.

They are young, fresh out of film school, and ready to make their mark on the entertainment industry. They are a bit unsure of themselves in the edit suite and they compensate by keeping Gabi on a tight rein. They seem to think of her purely as a technician, a person whose job is to execute their editorial directives. A bit of a shame they don’t recognize what a great sounding board Gabi would be!

What Gabi Does:

First of all, she doesn’t take offense. She smiles, nods, and takes notes to be sure she remembers what she’s being instructed to do. Then she gets busy and does exactly what Jack and Jill have asked.

Things go fine for a while. Then they hit a stumbling block.

A bit of dramatic dialogue just doesn’t ring true. Jack can’t put his finger on why the scene isn’t quite working. Jill just looks sick. Gabi lets them dangle there for a couple minutes, then says, “May I make a suggestion?”

At that point, Jack and Jill are thrilled to get something – anything – that might break them out of their creative jam and get the edit back on track.

Gabi: “I was thinking that the pacing of the scene is a little too quick. It needs to breathe just bit more.”

Gabi quickly inserts a two-shot with a bit of ambient sound.

Pacing Tip in Avid Media Composer for Video Editor Job

When she plays back the change, Jack and Jill love it. Of course, Gabi knew all along what the scene needed. But by deferring to Jack and Jill until they really needed her creative input, she gets herself invited onto the creative team, which is where she needed to be all along.


Scenario #2: A Spec of Trouble

The Client:

Sebastian runs a small ad agency that has just landed the Desert Chevy account. His first order of business is to rebrand the dealership as “The Pricebusters”.

Sebastian hands Gabi the TV script and a DVD of the original Ghostbusters movie from 1984. You can see where this is going. Sebastian’s plan is to use the music in a spec demo and record a new version with parody lyrics if the client approves.

What Gabi Does:

Gabi grabs him a cup of coffee and explains the problem she sees with the plan.

Gabi: “A spec demo should never contain elements that might not be available for the final production,” Gabi begins.

Personality Tips for Working with Clients in Video Editor Job

Gabi: “Plus, using a popular song in advertising – let alone putting parody lyrics to it – takes special permission and often buckets of cash.”

Poor Sebastian is stunned and more than a little embarrassed. But Gabi has some good news. She knows a well-connected “rights and permissions” guy in New York who will offer Sebastian a quick opinion on his plan at no charge.

Gabi saves the day without making a single cut. Sometimes, being a good editor is about more than editing well.


Final Thoughts

We’ve talked about stereotypes and hypotheticals today. Now I want to leave you with something concrete.

Being a go-to editor is as much about attitude and disposition as it is about artistry and technique.

Being a go-to editor is as much about attitude and disposition as it is about artistry and technique.

Every editing session will have a context to it.

It’s the coming together of two or more individuals with history, opinions and worries of their own. All of this “baggage” can manifest in unpredictable ways. All the more reason for YOU to be easy to work with.

Remember that chemistry I mentioned earlier? You can create it by remaining positive, considerate, and confident, no matter what happens. Will you always feel that way? Probably not. That’s ok…FAKE IT!

TIP: There’s a great little quirk about the human subconscious mind — it can’t tell the difference between something imagined vs something remembered.

If you act like the editor you want to be, your own subconscious will help you morph into that reality. Then, you’ll become the editor that everyone goes to.

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